Cairo braces for third day of Mubarak trial protests

Story highlights

Demonstrators vow to continue protests despite stifling heat in Cairo

Prosecutors charge Mubarak's sons with money laundering

Five of Mubarak's aides have been freed; his sons remain in prison

Hundreds of people gather in Tahrir Square after Mubarak escapes the death penalty

Cairo CNN  — 

Cairo braced for a third day of protests despite stifling heat Monday, as Egyptians vent anger over the trials of former top officials accused of ordering demonstrators killed during last year’s revolution.

Former President Hosni Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib El Adly were sentenced to life in prison, while six top interior ministry officials were cleared of the charges.

Protesters flooded into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of Egypt’s revolution, in the wake of the verdict, outraged at the clearing of the ministry officials and angry that Mubarak escaped the death penalty.

The protesters chanted “Down with SCAF,” the military council that has ruled the country since Mubarak was toppled last year, and shouted that the court ruling was illegitimate.

There were smaller protests on Sunday, and vows to continue demonstrations on Monday.

Protesters rally after Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to life in prison

The judge also cleared Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, of corruption charges.

On Sunday, prosecutors announced the two are charged with money laundering.

Last week, they were charged with insider trading, accused of profiting 2 billion Egyptian pounds – about $331 million – through the practice on the Egyptian stock market.

Hosni Mubarak has previously accused authorities of tarnishing his reputation and that of his family. He has said he and his children did not violate any laws.

Five of Mubarak’s aides have been freed; Gamal and Alaa Mubarak remain in prison.

Adel Saeed, spokesman for the general prosecutor’s office, said last week the two sons would remain in prison for the insider trading case.

It was not immediately clear what impact the new charges, of money laundering, would have on how long the two remain behind bars.

Many Egyptians taking part in Sunday’s protests expressed anger that former strongman Mubarak, 84, had escaped the death penalty.

A cartoon published after the verdict showed Mubarak’s scowling head in prison while his body, hands dripping with blood and labeled “Mubarak’s regime,” walked away waving a sheet of paper saying “innocent.”

The Muslim Brotherhood called for more protests on Sunday.

Mubarak was immediately transferred to a prison in southern Cairo to serve his sentence, and a prosecutor said the former president, who attended court on a gurney, would be moved to the prison hospital.

The former president’s lawyer, Fareed El Deeb, said there were many holes in the judge’s decision and that he was already preparing to appeal the Mubarak verdict.

Protesters in the square waved Egyptian flags as they demanded justice for those killed and injured during last year’s demonstrations. At least 61 people were injured Saturday in protests throughout Egypt, following the verdict, state TV reported.

iReport: Egyptians protest current regime

About 840 people died and more than 6,000 others were injured in last year’s 18-day uprising, according to Amnesty International.

“I’m asking the help of the people who gather in Tahrir Square to get justice for my son,” pleaded one woman on the street in Cairo. “I need justice for my son. My son did not commit any crime. How come the sons of Mubarak are set free?”

The Cairo courtroom erupted in chaos Saturday after the judge announced his decisions.

It appeared the entire gallery of men dressed in suits began shouting and stood on their chairs. Fists flew and at least one man suffered a bleeding gash to his chin.

“We want honesty!” they shouted. “Revolution till victory!”

A strongman’s fall from grace

The echoing cheers outside the police academy where the trial was held turned to angry shouts as people first heard Mubarak’s sentence, then heard that all of Mubarak’s senior advisers and his two sons were acquitted.

The mostly anti-Mubarak crowd threw rocks at police, smashed cars and cursed the ruling military council.

The sentence delivered by Judge Ahmed Refaat was the final chapter of Mubarak’s iron rule of Egypt that ended in February 2011. He said it offered people relief after living “in 30 years of dark without any hope.”

“The verdicts are insults to the Egyptian people and the judicial system. It’s a festival of innocent verdicts to El Adly’s aides who killed and tortured free citizens for years,” said Rami Shath, a member of the Egyptian Revolution Alliance.

Human Rights Watch said the verdict sends a message to Egypt’s future leaders that they are not above the law, though it said the acquittals give “a green light to future police abuse.”

Amnesty International described the verdict as “a significant step towards combating long-standing impunity in Egypt,” but it, too, said the ruling leaves many waiting for full justice.

Arab leaders: Where are they now?

David Scheffer, an American lawyer and diplomat who served as the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, said the trial was significant for the Arab world even if it could have been run better.

“While I want to emphasize the problems with the trial itself, it’s also important to recognize that the Egyptian judicial system has held a leader accountable for very serious crimes that occurred during the uprising in Egypt,” Scheffer told CNN.

“In the very heart of the Arab world, where this has not occurred before in a civilian court, a leader has actually been brought to justice, a leader who has been persent in the courtroom has brought to some level of justice by a domestic court for gross human rights abuses.”

Timeline of Mubarak’s ascent and fall from power

The White House had no comment on Mubarak’s sentence.

The trial has been a spectacle few Egyptians thought they would see, with Mubarak on the gurney and locked in a defendant’s cage.

The verdict follows Friday’s expiration of a notorious emergency law that was in effect since shortly after Mubarak came to power in October 1981 and gave police sweeping powers.

CNN’s Saad Abedine and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report.